Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pasta Salad Heaven

The smell of charcoal is in the air...yep, it's barbeque season! One of the most enjoyable times of the year. And a yummy side dish that absolutely has to be included on every
 bbq menu is pasta salad.

Sunday night, I had made vegetable radiatore with a simple garlic butter to go with the chicken breasts
we had grilled for dinner. The breasts were marinated in a union of
olive oil, garlic, white wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, & dried herbs
 before getting grilled outside by Mr. Whitney.
Italian word for “radiators,” radiatore are short, chunky pasta shapes about 1 inch by 1/2 inch,
with ruffled ridges that radiate out. One of the more elegant pasta shapes, they look great
sauced or in casseroles, salads and soups.  
Of course, there were leftovers which I promptly stashed in the fridge.  I'd been wanting to wait until mid-week to hit up our local TJ's for a grocery run, so on Monday I browsed thru the freezer, fridge, and cupcoard for ideas on what to make for dinner. Besides having had a rough weekend and still being exhausted, Spence was working late so it was just munchkin and I. After realizing the sparcity that was my shelves, I decided to use up the leftover grilled chicken and cooked radiatore to create a phenomenal pasta salad.

First, I made my dressing. I never purchase salad dressing, EVER. Not only is it the most simple thing to make, but after I read on the label of Hidden Valley Ranch that it contains msg, (amongst many other preservatives) I vowed to never again buy a bottle. I keep a jar of oil & vinegar blended with spices (fresh garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, black pepper, sea salt)  in my fridge and use it all the time for various dishes. For this salad, I started by pouring about a 1/3c. of my O&V over my cold radiatore. I also made a quarter cup of buttermilk (by adding a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to whole milk) and threw that in as well. My pasta had been kind of stuck together from the cooled garlic butter sauce but after a brisk stirring, it separated nicely. I then chopped up my grilled chicken and tossed that in. Now for the veggies- a few celery stalks, a couple carrots, half a red bell pepper, and half a yellow bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces. Almost an entire can (all but a small handful) of black olives, chopped. Combine the veggies with the pasta and chicken. Now my most favorite pasta salad in the world is made by my aunt, whose secret ingredient I learned a few years back. A spice blend by McCormack called Salad Supreme. I didn't know exactly what was in it, but I was confidant that I could concoct a spice mix just as satisfying to the tastebuds. A sprinkling of onion powder, paprika, sesame & poppy seeds, red pepper, and a half cup of grated parmesan cheese, and a tasty imposter was conceived. After blending all that in, I threw in a few fresh basil leaves from my herb garden and we produced an ultimately tempting treat for the pasta salad lover.

I love coming up with something appetizing using leftovers or ingredients I had on hand. Plus, my two-year old gobbled this up like no other, which in my book, is a winning recipe worth keeping around!

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